It was estimated by the United States Chamber of Commerce more than 5 weeks ago that 1 in 4 small businesses in America have already closed their doors due to COVID-19 and an estimated 1 in 24 businesses in general would be forced out of business before the pandemic is considered contained.
Socorro, like many small towns across New Mexico has been hit hard in light of government mandates regarding the closing of many non-essential businesses, but one Socorro County resident still seems to like her odds.
Roxanne Scott, a long-time resident of San Antonio, N.M. opened a new business last weekend in Socorro, and it’s not a run-of-the-mill type of establishment.
Forget Me Not Thrift Store had a soft opening Saturday, and according to Scott all of the retail shop’s net proceeds will go directly to the Socorro chapter of the Disabled Veterans of America and the DAV Auxiliary.
The local chapter of the DAV uses their funds to support veterans, including medical assistance and taking veterans to the V.A. Hospital in Albuquerque. It finds shelter for homeless veterans and holds Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners every year, and last year the Auxiliary filled 75 Christmas stockings to hand out to children.
Scott is a veteran of the United States Air Force and member of the DAV Auxiliary herself, and previously worked with Kristin Keller at Second Hand Rose for a decade, so she knows the business.
“She was my mentor. I learned a lot from her,” Scott said of Keller.
Scott joined the Auxiliary of the DAV in 2019, and eventually along with the DAV decided there was a need to help raise funds for veterans in not just the community, but statewide as well. So she and personal friend Sissy Olney came up with the idea for a thrift store in which they could help supplement the DAV and the Auxiliary, all while offering affordable goods.
“I’m excited because I need to do this for our community,” Scott said. “There’s a need for good quality clothing and furniture at a fair price.”
And perhaps as selfless as the idea itself to donate a chunk of the store’s proceeds was the amount of work she and her team had to put into getting it filled up and open in a short span of time. Scott and Olney just came up with the idea in February.
“I spent two weeks looking around Socorro for retail spaces and they were costly. I came across this building through a DAV member, Rosco Woods, and it had been vacant for about a year-and-a-half,” Scott said.
She took over management of the facility April 1, and in six weeks’ time had it cleaned, painted and filled with merchandise.
Scott said through the generosity of the community they received 100 donations, which almost completely filled the space.
“So it went from an empty building to this,” she said. “Everything here has been donated by the community.”
The store, located at 104 Neel St. next to the Socorro County Annex is named Forget Me Not, homage to a fundraiser that began after World War I.
As soldiers were returning from The Great War they had no access to programs designed for disabled veterans. Many Americans felt using the small, blue forget-me-not flowers (Myosotis scorpioides) were a way to honor not only the fallen, but to help assist those who returned home from the war with physical and mental scars.
“That’s how we came up with a sign for the store, and ‘forget me not’ in that secondhand stuff can be repurposed,” Scott said.
After Scott mounted her store’s sign she posted the idea on Facebook and began taking no-contact donations, and is using every donation any way she can.
“We go through it and just sell good, quality product,” she said. “The product we can’t use is in bags and I have a couple of friends that go to Mexico, so all the clothing we can’t use goes to Mexico.”
DAV Commander Gordy Hicks said he wants to support not only everyone who helped put the store together, but also the people who donated so much.
“I want to make sure they do have a place to come in and look at stuff. We’re in a poor community,” he said. “They can’t just afford a lot of high dollar stuff. This is a place for them to come pick up everything at a reasonable price.”
In addition to the plausible advantage to Socorro and the surrounding area the shop could bring, the DAV has also felt the negative effects of COVID-19. So while the chapter, usually alive this time of year with graduation parties and weddings is shut down, it’s had to return all of the deposits from those events. The possible income from Forget Me Not couldn’t have come at a better time for the Socorro Chapter.
“The parties we used to have, we can’t have right now so that’s hurting us big time,” Hicks said. “It’s something that’s going to help the club so much, the DAV and the Auxiliary.
"I was proud to serve my country. It’s so neat to have a DAV where you can go and have part of what you had then. It’s just so important to have the money to keep that place going.”
Scott is not solely open for business to create revenue for the DAV and the Auxiliary. She’s open to helping out veterans in any way she can.
“I’m hoping to reach out, and I’ve told everyone: if you’re a veteran, if you’re a homeless veteran in need, come here and I will clothe you. I will give you a set of clothing and a pair of shoes at no cost,” she said. “Also we have a room that has walkers, toilets, crutches, canes. If any veteran needs that, feel free to come in and there’s no cost for that.”
Scott described the local community as a loving, giving one that wants to help each other.
“I think this gives them an opportunity not only to do spring cleaning, but it’s 100 percent tax deductible so I can give them a receipt,” she said. “And they’re helping our veterans.
"We’re 90 miles from Albuquerque and it puts a lot of hardships on our veterans. The older veterans that are by themselves that feel like they’re alone, they’re not. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Forget Me Not Thrift Store is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.